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Tetrafluoroethylene, Polytetrafluoroethylene, and Teflon (C2F4)

Tetrafluoroethylene (TFE) is the simplest alkene fluorocarbon. It is colourless, odorless and a gas at room temperature. It is unstable, tending towards decomposition to C and CF4, it also forms explosive peroxides in contact with air.

TFE can be polymerized to form polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), also known as Teflon. In the polymerization of TFE, the double bond between the carbons is broken thus leaving each carbon to readily bond to another atom. PTFE is hydrophobic which in conjunction with multiple other properties makes it highly useful in coatings for non-stick pans.

(Images via wikimedia, benbest.com, and 3dchem.com)

A recently published study of workers exposed to tetrafloroethylene has failed to identify any risk of cancer [1]. However, despite efforts to include as many exposed workers as possible the study had little power and so more research is needed to clarify whether there is a risk to worker health from exposure.


Tetrafluoroethene

Molecular formulaC2F4Molar mass100.02 g/molDensity1.519 g/cm3 at -76 °CMelting point

-142.5 °C, 131 K, -225 °F

Boiling point

-76.3 °C, 197 K, -105 °F

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